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Thursday, June 9 2016

Acts 9: Paul's Conversion In Syria and The Rising Of Tabitha

"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?"

Syria is located immediately northeast of Galilee. Along with its capital city of Damascus, Syria has had a very long connection to the true people of the LORD, including:

  • Abraham settled in Syria on his way from Babylon to the land of Canaan (see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan). Years later, while living in Canaan, Abraham deliberately sent back and found a Syrian wife for his son Isaac - Rebekah, who became the mother of Jacob / Israel (see The Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah).

  • Jacob, who the LORD renamed as Israel while on his Syrian journey (see A Biography Of Jacob: When Jacob Became Israel), lived in Syria for over 20 years. From Jacob's 4 Syrian wives, Syria was the birthplace of nearly all of his children, the Israelites - including Judah, the forefather of the Jews (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Jacobites Of Syria).

  • The language of Syria, Aramaic, was the Messiah's primary language. Jesus prayed to God (He even called God Abba - the Syrian word for Father) in the Syrian language and many of His most-famous sayings, as recorded in the New Testament, were actually spoken in the Syrian language (see The Syrian Tongue Of Jesus).

  • The followers of the Messiah were first called "Christians" at Antioch in Syria: "11:26 ... And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26 KJV)

Syria was also the country where the LORD (see The Identity Of The LORD God and The LORD God Our Saviour) converted the Christian-hating Pharisee Saul into the apostle Paul. Despite the persecutions and killings of them by Saul, upon his conversion, the LORD's people in Syria forgave and accepted him as a Christian. Paul was baptized by Ananias, a Christian in Syria.

Paul Meets Barnabas

"9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord?

And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias.

And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.

Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus." (Acts 9:1-19 KJV)

The Christians of Syria even protected Saul / Paul from those who would have harmed him after his conversion - people exactly like the way Paul himself had been before he was cured of his spiritual blindness (see Paul's Blindness Lesson). Upon his return to Jerusalem, which was the most dangerous place for a Christian of all (see Why Was The South A Dangerous Place?), Paul began his friendship and association with Barnabas (see the Fact Finder question below).

Straight Street In Damascus

"9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 9:28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." (Acts 9:20-31 KJV)

In the mean time, the apostle Peter was doing what the LORD had assigned him to do - including, by means of faith and the Holy Spirit, raising the dead back to their physical lives. Among the most famous of those was Tabitha, a Christian woman at Joppa.

"9:32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 9:33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. 9:35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 9:37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 9:42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner." (Acts 9:32-43 KJV)

Fact Finder: What work did Barnabass and Saul / Paul do together?
See The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas and The Ministry Of Paul And Barnabas


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This Day In History, June 9

411 BC: A coup formed a short-lived oligarchy (a political system governed by a few people) in Athens (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids).

53: Roman Emperor Nero (see Nero's Torches) married his stepsister Claudia Octavia, the 13 year old niece of Emperor Tiberius (Tiberius was the emperor at the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ) and the daughter of Emperor Claudius (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars) and Whatever Happened To Those Romans?).

Cartier 62: Roman Emperor Nero had his wife Claudia Octavia executed. She was 22.

68: Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide (see also Did Nero Really Fiddle While Rome Burned?).

721: Odo, the duke of Aquitaine, defeated the Moors (the name given to the medieval Muslim occupants of Spain and southern Europe) at the Battle of Toulouse.

1534: French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew became the first known Europeans to sail into the St. Lawrence River.

1549: The Church of England adopted The Book of Common Prayer, compiled by Thomas Cranmer (see also Is 'Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust' Really In The Bible?).

1597: Jose de Anchieta died at age 63. The Portuguese Jesuit is considered to be the founder of national literature of Brazil, and is "credited" with helping over 1 million "Indians" (the incorrect term applied to the natives of the continents of North and South America by European explorers who thought that they were in India) to become "Christian" i.e. Roman Catholic.

1732: British General and Member of Parliament James Oglethorpe received a royal charter to form the colony of Georgia (named after King George II) on the southeast coast of North America.

1762: British forces began the siege and capture of Havana, Cuba during the Seven Years' War.

1800: During Napoleon's Italian campaign, the first Battle of Montebello was fought.

1815: The Congress of Vienna closed with the signing of the Final Act. Among its provisions, Belgium and Luxembourg united with Holland to form the Netherlands, Switzerland was neutral, East Poland ceded to Russia and its western provinces to Prussia.

1898: An agreement was signed under which Hong Kong was leased to Britain from China for a period of 99 years.

1908: King Edward VII of Britain met Czar Nicholas II of Russia on board the royal yacht anchored in the Baltic. It was the first meeting between a czar and a British monarch.

1931: Robert Goddard patented the rocket-fueled aircraft design.

1940: That day was appointed by the British as a national day of Thanksgiving to God for "the miracle of Dunkirk" a week before (see also Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy). Overcast had kept the Hitler's Luftwaffe grounded, while the normally rough and treacherous English Channel was unusually calm. People who had lived all their lives on its shore said that they had never seen the Channel so tranquil, which enabled all sorts of small civilian craft to take part in the successful evacuation of 338,000 British and allied troops - many of whom survived to return a few years later on the D Day landings at Normandy.

1959: The first submarine to carry nuclear "weapons of mass destruction," the USS George Washington, was launched.

1964: William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, died at age 85. The Canadian financial baron and statesman was one of only two people (the other was Winston Churchill) to sit in the British cabinet during both World Wars. He was Prime Minister Churchill's minister of aircraft production (Fighters: 14,200 Hurricane, 20,300 Spitfire; Bombers: 11,400 Wellington, 7,300 Lancaster, 6,100 Halifax and 7,700 Mosquito) during the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1967: During the Six-Day War, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria (see also Israel's Wars In The Twentieth Century).

1968: U.S. President Lyndon Johnson declared a national day of mourning after the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.

1978: An original Gutenberg Bible, one of only 21 known to exist, sold for $2.4 million in London.

1991: Mount Pinatubo, a Philippine volcano that had been dormant for 600 years, erupted.





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Copyright © Wayne Blank